Gauteng hospitals at 91% occupancy rates

  • Gauteng has reached 91% Covid-19 bed occupancy.
  • The province only has an extra 185 beds from the projected 9 500 needed for the third wave.
  • A total of 68% of all the people admitted at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital are Covid-19 patients. 

With the Covid-19 third wave battering Gauteng, hospitals in the province are filling up quickly with a 91% occupancy rate.  

On Friday, Dr Ntsakisi Maluleke, public health specialist, said current hospitalisation rates in the province for both public and private hospital Covid-19 beds were at 91%.  

Maluleke said the seven-day rolling average for hospitalisations in the province is 631 – higher than during the peak in the second wave of infections. 

Hospitalisation statistics from 1 July show that there are 7 515 Covid-19 patients in Gauteng hospitals. There are 2 410 in the public sector and 5 150 in the private sector. A total of 1 774 patients are in the Intensive Care Unit.  

“Occupancy rates in both private and public sector is at 91%,” Maluleke said. She said 68% of all patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital are Covid-19 patients. 

The third wave of infections was expected to be longer but less severe than the first two waves. The circulation of the Delta variant meant that Gauteng had to go back to the drawing board and make new projections about the number of beds required. 

Worst-case scenario

In the first modelling, the Gauteng premier’s advisory committee had said the province would need 8 000 in the worst-case scenario. Revised modelling shows that the province would need 9 500 beds in both public and private healthcare facilities. 

READ | Covid-19 third wave: Gauteng hospitals starting to transfer patients to other facilities

Maluleke said the province had enough capacity. The public sector has 4 050 beds, and the private sector has 5 635. Of these, 3886 are for general wards, and 1 749 are in private healthcare. This means the province only has 185 more beds than the projected need of 9500. Maluleke said if there were no increase in bed capacity from the second wave, occupancy rates would now be 135%. 

For the second wave, Gauteng had 4 150 beds in the private sector and 3 260 beds in the public sector. 

The public sector has added extra beds at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Jubilee District Hospital, George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Bronkhorstspruit Hospital and the Anglo-Gold Ashanti Hospital. 

Government hospitals are taking strain amid the th

Government hospitals in Gauteng are taking strain amid the third wave while the AngloGold Ashanti Hospital remains unutilised. Photo: Gauteng Government/Twitter

Malueke said:

We have a bed management board that we use to see which facility has the highest number of admissions and where the pressures are so that we respond accordingly.

  

An increase in bed capacity also means more personnel has to be hired to staff them.  

Maluleke said: “For this current wave, we have added 5 541 health personnel. The personnel has been recruited to man additional beds.”

She said the province received an additional budget to recruit more personnel, and that would be done in the next few weeks. 

READ | Junior doctors losing patience as more delays mar placements at public health facilities

While the province is looking to hire more healthcare workers, junior doctors are still struggling to find placements. So far, the health department has placed 133 junior doctors, and 155 are still unplaced. 

Dr Sandile Mlungwana, who is still not placed, said:

People started receiving their placements on Thursday. The surprising thing is that only locally trained doctors have received placements.

Mlungwana was trained in Cuba and completed his medical degree at Walter Sisulu University. 

“Right now, we are very angry and frustrated. We have been having ongoing talks with the department for months, and we are still unplaced.”

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